Frascati wine and the city! With an ancestral fame, linked to Rome since it was the capital of the Empire, let’s discover Frascati, the heart of the Castelli Romani wine production.
We are located a few kilometres from Rome, in the Castelli Romani area, where we encounter one of the most famous Italian wines in the world, Frascati wine. It is a very important wine, whose reputation is so widespread that it is also present on foreign markets.
Frascati wine owes its fame not only to the fact that it has made its mark on the history of wine-growing in Lazio, but also because it has been a wine that has coloured our tables for centuries, pairing with the dishes of ancient Rome and the Papacy.
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In Frascati wine & history
Rome was the great market near the wine production area, easy to reach and where a remarkable “drinking culture” reigned. Since trade, politics, art, agriculture and nobility converged in the capital, wine always found its place as a protagonist and everyone was ready to taste this pride of the Roman countryside. In addition, it had multiple functions. In fact, the Romans also used it in medicine, cosmetics, religious and social rites.
Defined as the wine of Rome par excellence, Frascati wine conceals in its essence an immense world, made up of territory and history. A history that best defines the origin of wine-growing in the Castelli Romani, which is lost in distant times, until it merges with mythology.
Legend has it that Saturn, once banished from Mount Olympus by his father Jupiter, took refuge in Latium. In exchange for the asylum he received, the god introduced agriculture to those peoples, planting the first vine. From then on, the Romans gradually became skilled farmers, increasing production and importing new vines.
This persisted until the fall of the Roman Empire. From then on, wine-growing underwent a sharp reduction, being concentrated mainly in monasteries and abbeys. Thus, a large part of viticulture was under the protection of the monks, for the production of mass wine and for medicinal preparations.
It was thanks to the intervention of certain nobles, such as Marcantonio Colonna, that the development of viticulture and wine production increased. Marcantonio Colonna had a statute drawn up, which regulated the life in the municipality of Frascati and the agricultural and wine-growing activities. It is no coincidence that Frascati wine became established as the best in the Castelli Romani wine region at that time. And so it became a protagonist in the history of Papal Rome and influenced its customs, habits and economy.
The Castelli Romani wine production
As already mentioned, the wine production area is identified as the Castelli Romani, which entirely comprises the municipalities of Frascati, Grottaferrata, Monte Porzio Catone and partly those of Rome and Montecompatri. We find ourselves in the middle of the Roman countryside, on the slopes of the Colli Albani, with altitudes ranging from 70 to 500 metres.
The soil is volcanic, basaltic and tuffaceous, within a territory of mountains, lakes and forests.
The climate is Mediterranean, characterised by moderate temperatures with concentrated rainfall in winter and long droughts in summer. A fundamental aspect of this wine region is the exposure to the Tyrrhenian Sea. Such exposure allows the area to enjoy a “breeze” that makes the sun heat milder and avoids the stagnation of humidity. These are all environmental conditions that the vine finds very favourable.
The grapes used to make Frascati wine are more or less the same used at the beginning of the 1900s. This is an element that proves the great tradition at the base of this renowned wine.
Although, it must be said that the proportions have changed. In a minimum percentage of 70%, Malvasia bianca di Candia and/or Malvasia del Lazio are used. These grape varieties are used together with Trebbiano Toscano, Trebbiano giallo, Bellone, Bombino bianco and Greco bianco, alone or in combination up to a maximum of 30%. In addition, other white grape varieties authorised in the Lazio Region may be used, but for a maximum of 15%.
Wine-making techniques & appellations
As regards wine-making techniques, only those oenological practices which are suitable to give the wines their particular characteristics are permitted. For example, vinification and ageing must be carried out exclusively in the wine region. The planting density is also fundamental: it must be at least 3,000 vines/ha in order to obtain an optimum grape yield of no more than 70%.
Moreover, the Castelli Romani is an area of great wine tradition. Consequently, it is extremely important to respect the wine production techniques declared in the specific specifications. All this in order to obtain the best results from Frascati wine and to respect the wine appellation, whether IGT, DOC or DOCG.
Today Frascati has three wine appellations:
- Frascati DOC
- Frascati Superiore DOCG
- Cannellino di Frascati DOCG
Let’s discover them together!
Frascati wine was the first white wine in Italy to obtain the “Denominazione di Origine Controllata”, in 1966, a great example of history and tradition. It is a straw yellow wine, more or less intense, with golden hues. The nose recalls notes of fresh fruit, mainly citrus and ripe fruit, but also floral notes, recalling the family of white flowers, especially jasmine. It is a full-bodied wine, the taste is balanced, fresh, savoury and persistent.
With its sensory characteristics, it is a perfect pairing with hors d’oeuvres, soups, first courses, fish, as well as white meat and medium-aged cheeses.Above all, it pairs perfectly with local dishes, including bucatini all’amatriciana, carciofi alla giudia, saltimbocca alla romana and porchetta.
In addition, you should know that Frascati wine is also made into sparkling wine, in the brut and extra dry versions. The sparkling phase, which can be carried out in the entire territory of the province, gives this wine a fine and persistent foam. With its harmonious flavour, it is perfect as an excellent aperitif, try it to believe it!
Frascati Superiore DOCG
A further gem of the Roman wine tradition is Frascati Superiore. This wine has been DOC since 1966. It was awarded the DOCG in 2011, together with the Cannellino di Frascati. Frascati Superiore is likewise a white wine, as the same grapes are used. It has a more or less intense straw yellow colour, fruity and floral notes on the nose. Dry, savoury, soft and velvety in flavour, like many white wines, it pairs well with delicate first courses, fish dishes and white meat. Among Roman dishes, it is perfect with bucatini all’amatriciana and coratelle with artichokes.
But what is its added value? Its superior alcoholic strength. It has a minimum value of 11.5%, compared to the 11% of Frascati DOC wine, represented by the “Superiore” wine appellation.
In Frascati Superiore, we also find the “Riserva” version, which shares the same characteristics. However, it has a different wine-making process, as the ageing and refining periods are compulsorily in the bottle.
Cannellino di Frascati DOCG
Last, but not least, is the Cannellino di Frascati DOCG. Unlike the previous ones, Cannellino wine is made from grapes harvested late and, if necessary, dried. In fact, Cannellino has a more intense straw yellow colour, with a higher sugar content than the traditional DOC, as the over-ripening phase leads to an accumulation of sugars.
Full and balanced, it is a wine with a very intense and fine bouquet. Its fruity flavour is characterised by notes of sultanas and almonds, with a sweet and delicate taste. It has normal acidity on the palate, which together with a barely perceptible bitterness and good structure, contribute to a balanced taste. It may have a slight hint of toasted wood, if containers made of that material are used during wine-making and/or ageing phases.
With these characteristics, Cannellino di Frascati DOCG pairs well with starters, first courses, fish and meat dishes, but also cheese, especially goat’s cheese and blue cheese. However, because of its sweetness, Cannellino can give its best with desserts such as tozzetti, ciambelle with must or wine, cream tarts or ricotta and sour cherry tarts.
Join Frascati wine tours!
Now that we have discovered Frascati wine and territory, are you curious to join a Frascati wine tour and taste this wine with delicious traditional dishes? Thanks to Italia Delight, you can do it!
You have the opportunity to visit a Frascati winery, either on a 1-day tour or on food holidays, which you can create yourself and customise with the local Expert.
There are plenty of unique wine experiences and tour ideas to suit you:
What are you waiting for? Run and taste the fantastic wine of Frascati! 🍷
📚 Now that you know more about Frascati wine, discover also Lazio wine: history, wine appellations and pairings